Kingsland Builders Club member Brianna Hindt cuts fringes out of fleece fabric to make tie blankets for charities during a Key Club-Builders Club lock-in held this past Friday night at Kingsland Middle School.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Kingsland Builders Club member Brianna Hindt cuts fringes out of fleece fabric to make tie blankets for charities during a Key Club-Builders Club lock-in held this past Friday night at Kingsland Middle School. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Kingsland seventh and eighth graders spent the night at the middle school Friday, making fleece tie blankets and other projects.

The students are members of the Kingsland Builders Club, a student group sponsored by Spring Valley Kiwanis. They spent the night at the school with Kingsland Key Club members, students in high school that are also a Kiwanis-sponsored group, during the annual lock-in.

"Their mission is 'to be of service to their school and community and beyond, especially service that will benefit children," said Kingsland Builders Club Kiwanis advisor Nancy Cornell.

The Builders Club's core values are "character building - the ability to do the right thing, even when it might be the unpopular choice, leadership - the ability to listen, communicate, serve and guide others, inclusiveness - accepting and welcoming differences in other people, and caring - the act of being concerned about or interested in other people or situations." The club's pledge is "I pledge on my honor to uphold the objects of the Builders Club, to better my school, my community, my nation and myself, to aid those in need while enhancing leadership capabilities, and to encourage the fellowship of all mankind."

Twenty-six seventh and eighth graders convened at the beginning of the school year, forming the 2013-14 Builders Club and holding their first meeting on Sept. 10. Throughout the year, the club members have numerous projects.

"They read once a month to all the kindergarten and first grade classes, they monitored the games at the community Halloween party, will participate in The Salvation Army's bell ringing, and we hope to do some planning at the lock-in, but would like to do some of the same projects that we did last year, like the food drive at Kingsland for the Spring Valley Area Food Shelf, participate in the Food for Kidz fundraising and work at Food for Kidz packaging event in April, and fundraise for The Eliminate Project, just to name a few," said Cornell.

The lock-in is one of several projects the Builders Club shares with the Key Club, as they also monitored "Alex's Lemonade Stand" - a Key Club project - during Ag Days.

Cornell acknowledged that cooperative ventures offer the students a chance to interact with their peers and upper classmen, and cited that she feels the students enjoy doing worthwhile activities with their friends.

"Seventh and eighth graders look up to upper classmen and are influenced by the activities that they participate in," she said. "Key Club members are dedicated to providing service and provide a great role model for Builders Club, showing them that helping others is rewarding and fun. The interaction of the two groups encourages the Builders Club members to join Key Club when they reach ninth grade - a great way to continue their passion for service."

Cornell expressed her appreciation for the assistance the Kiwanis receives from the school-appointed advisor in leading the Builders Club. "We are excited and grateful to have Becky Bicknese as our Builders Club (and Key Club) advisor. She is energetic, has great rapport with the kids, has great ideas and knows how to get things accomplished."

Fellow Kiwanis Builders Club advisor Bill Rowen related that he enjoys being in charge of the students because he witnesses how they become more confident in their decisions to serve and to lead, and how their skills grow as they do so, looking forward to seeing them take on the same blanket mission as Key Club members.